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I saw a recipe online for bell peppers stuffed with rice, ground chicken and an interesting blend of vegetables which sounded good, but I thought my family would like it better in casserole-form.  I used chopped bell peppers along with chicken breast rather than ground chicken and substituted orzo for rice to make a very flavorful and satisfying meal.  I used my favorite mixture of oregano and chili powder to give the dish a little kick and it was voted a winner by the family.  I assembled the dish a day ahead of time and baked it for Sunday dinner.  We had enough for everyone to have an extra serving for supper during the week.  This dish would also freeze well.

Chicken, Spinach, Artichoke and Orzo Casserole

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup orzo cooked al dente according to package directions
½ chicken breast, cooked and shredded
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Oiled 9×13 baking dish

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and cook bell pepper and onion until soft but not brown.  Add minced garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.  Stir in tomato sauce, thawed spinach, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.  Add cooked orzo and shredded chicken breast.  Spoon mixture into oiled 9×13 baking dish.  Dish can be covered and refrigerated at this point and baked later.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place covered casserole in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble.  Remove cover and sprinkle with crumbled Feta cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes more.  Serve hot.

6-8 generous servings


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ch-spin-top

This dish was inspired by one on Allrecipes.com, but changed quite a bit.  My daughters and I enjoyed this for lunch on Sunday and were able to enjoy it again for Monday night supper.  It’s very tasty and filling, and reheats well in the microwave.

CHICKEN AND SPINACH LASAGNE

5 dry lasagne noodles

¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup cold milk
1 cup hot chicken broth
8 oz. shredded mozzarella (2 cups), divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped (½ tsp. dried basil)
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (½ tsp. dried oregano)
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Dash nutmeg
2 Tblsp. dried minced onions

1 cup ricotta cheese, divided in thirds
1 cup cubed, cooked chicken breast
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained*

2 Tblsp. grated Parmesan for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease a 9-inch casserole dish

*Squeeze water out of the spinach after draining so that it is as dry as possible.
Chick Las-spinach

Cook lasagne noodles in boiling, salted water for 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.  Pat dry with a paper towel before adding to dish.

In a saucepan, whisk together the flour, salt and cold milk until smooth.  Add hot broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to bubble.  Lower heat and continue cooking for two more minutes, stirring constantly.

Chick Las-sauce

Remove from heat and add 1 cup of mozzarella, 2 Tblsp. Parmesan, basil, oregano, black pepper, nutmeg and dried onions, stirring to blend until cheese is melted.

To Assemble:

Spread 1/3 of sauce mixture in the bottom of baking dish.  Layer with 1/3 of the noodles and all of the chicken.  Using 1/3 of ricotta, place in dollops on top.

Arrange 1/3 of the noodles over the chicken and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, all of the spinach, the remainione cup of mozzarella and 2 Tblsp. Parmesan.  Place 1/3 of ricotta in dollops on top.
Chick Las-ricotta

Arrange remaining noodles over cheese and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles.  Add remaining 1/3 of ricotta in dollops over top and sprinkle with 2 Tblsp. Parmesan.

Chick Las-ready

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until top is light brown.

Chick Las-baked

Let dish stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

ch-spin-bot

6 servings. 

Basil,oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme, peppermint (and marigolds)

Basil,oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme, peppermint (and marigolds)


orzo-top
I saw a recipe online which sounded interesting but I had some problems with my first version.  I made some changes on a second try that made the dish the way I thought it should be.  Toasting the dry orzo only takes 6 minutes and I believe it adds flavor to the pasta when it’s cooked.

I steamed the spinach and pressed out moisture to keep the sauce from having too much liquid.  Also changed out the cheese a bit.  The casserole really needs to rest 10 minutes before serving and is even better the next day.  This makes a very satisfying meatless casserole.

TOASTED ORZO AND SPINACH CASSEROLE

  • ½ pound orzo pasta  (1 cup)
  • 10 oz. bag of fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and stems removed
  • 3 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 5 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded very sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. crumbled feta cheese
  • ½  tsp. salt
  • Grating of black pepper
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Oil a 9-inch baking dish

Place orzo on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

orzo-parch

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the toasted orzo pasta until al dente according to package directions (approximately 10 minutes). Drain (but don’t rinse) and set aside.

orzo-drain
Steam spinach, covered, over simmering water for about 10 minutes until wilted.  Press and drain excess water.  Set aside.

orzo-spinach

orzo-wilt
In a large saucepan, place the flour and whisk in the milk gradually.  Cook over medium heat, whisking until the mixture starts to bubble.  Continue to whisk for one minute.  Remove from heat and add the mozzarella and cheddar cheese a half-cup at a time, stirring to be sure cheese is melted.  Stir in feta cheese (may not melt completely).

Stir in salt, pepper, tomatoes and spinach and orzo.

orzo-cheese
Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Add crumb topping.

Basil Crumb Topping

  • 2 slices of bread, torn into pieces
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves

In a food processor, place torn bread pieces and basil leaves.  Process until bread is in crumbs and basil is in tiny pieces.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Let dish rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

orzo-baked
Makes 6 servings


orzo-botClick on pictures to enlarge.


My youngest daughter is a busy stay-at-home mom who always finds time to get together with me on Fridays for lunch.  I try to make meals that are tasty, quick and easy, and reduced in fat and calories.  Here is what we enjoyed this week.

This is my version of my favorite dish at The Works Brick Oven restaurant in Loveland, Ohio.  It’s very flavorful and tasty and I like to stir the spinach leaves into the hot mixture to steam them.  My version is a good substitute and low in fat/calories, but there’s nothing like being in the old building in historic downtown Loveland (Ohio) enjoying the real thing.

TERIYAKI CHICKEN ON BED OF SPINACH

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Large sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed fork tender
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • Dash or two of Mongolian Fire Oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 5 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 4 tsp. roasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tblsp. dried cranberries

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onion slices over medium heat until translucent.

Add mushroom slices and cook until mushrooms start to soften.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Stir in steamed broccoli, cooked chicken breast, sesame oil, fire oil and teriyaki sauce.

Divide spinach leaves among 4 plates…

…and spoon piping hot chicken mixture on top of the spinach to allow it to steam.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.  Serve immediately.

Based on 4 servings, nutritional count per my DietPower software is:  148 calories, 5.5 g fat, 17.5 g carbs, 1.1 g fiber, 10 g protein.

Weight Watchers Plus/Points:  4 

For dessert, we had an old favorite – Apricot-Nut Cookies with Amaretto Icing


My two daughters were here for lunch before going swimming in my neighborhood pool.  I wanted to have something summery and light and decided to have corn-on-the-cob, Pecan Spinach Toss Salad, and Pineapple Cups.

PECAN SPINACH TOSS SALAD

  • Servings: 6 generous servings
  • Print

  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 3 cups boiling, lightly salted water
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach (about 5 oz.)
  • 5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 3 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tblsp. lemon zest
  • 3 Tblsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Grinding of black pepper

Add orzo to the boiling water, bring to a boil again and cook for 6 minutes.  Rinse in cold water and drain.

Put spinach, cheese and pecans in a very large bowl or pot and add orzo.

In a small jar, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper – put a lid on the jar and shake well.  Pour this dressing over the salad and toss well.  I let the salad set for about 30 minutes and served at room temperature, although cold leftovers were also good.

WARNING:  This makes a lot of salad – it would be good to take to a potluck or family gathering.  We three each had a big serving for lunch and each one had another large serving to save for supper.

This recipe is adapted from one in Susan Branch’s AUTUMN cookbook.

I’ve been organizing my huge collection of cookbooks and this dessert recipe jumped out at me from a 1939 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.  There are a lot of recipes in the cookbook, but my favorites are always the Round Table Recipes from readers which were clipped from the magazine and inserted in the cookbook binder.  This one is from someone in Connecticut in November, 1940.  Her comment, “Double surprise!  Comes cake, then custard hiding pineapple!”, which describes the dish exactly. This is a nice, tasty, light dessert – just right for lunch or supper.

PINEAPPLE CUPS

  • 8 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup juice drained from an 8 oz. can of pineapple tidbits
  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tblsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 Tblsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. milk
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Have 3 small ungreased individual baking dishes at hand.  Boil water to pour into a flat pan with a lip that will hold the 3 dishes.

Drain juice from pineapple can into a cup – should measure approximately 1/3 cup.  Set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and salt.  Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, cooled melted butter and milk, whisking until smooth.

Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Place tidbits in the bottom of three individual casseroles.  Divide batter among the three dishes and pour over the pineapple.  Place the dishes in a pan with a lip containing an inch of hot water.

Bake @ 325 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Pineapple cups are best served warm or at room temperature.

The buttered corn-on-the cob, the Pecan Spinach Toss Salad and this Pineapple Cup dessert made the perfect ladies’ summertime meal.


treesky

In the past 9+ years, I’ve been able to find Concord grapes at my supermarket only twice.  This past Friday was one of those days and although I had told my daughters we wouldn’t be having pie for Sunday dinner until after Thanksgiving (to whet their appetites for holiday pies), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make one of my favorites.  I posted about my Streusel Concord Grape Pie back in 2007, when I had just begun blogging.  It’s a messy looking pie, but the flavor of the grapes is just incredible.

revgrape

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, my husband and I lived on a two-acre plot of land that included every type of fruit that grows well in our southwestern Ohio area, including Concord grapes.  I used to have five-gallon pails of them setting in the kitchen waiting for me to cook up something delicious.  The grape jam and jelly were good but the pie was a family favorite from the beginning.  It takes some time to make, but is well worth it.  Check out the recipe.

Streusel Concord Grape Pie

Our meal was also an old standby – grilled pork tenderloin, sweet potato patties, and Spinach and Mushroom Casserole.

Spinach and Mushroom Casserole

I did try out a different recipe for a marinade, based on one I saw on All Recipes.  It was delicious.

PORK TENDERLOIN MARINADE

  • 2 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. teriyaki sauce
  • 1 Tblsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. onion salt
  • Grating of black pepper

Mix ingredients in a 9×9 square baking dish.  Add 1/2″ thick slices of pork tenderloin and toss until coated.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours, turning occasionally.  Remove from marinade and grill – I use a stovetop grill.

Above recipe is enough to marinate about 2 lbs. of sliced pork tenderloin.

I served dinner with some fresh homemade potato rolls and enjoyed a beautiful autumn day with my family.

fallplt

Easy Potato Yeast Rolls